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San Francisco Riders Protest After Black Man Detained for Eating on BART Platform

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After Steve Foster was handcuffed and cited for eating a sandwich on a San Francisco train platform, BART riders held a lunchtime ‘eat-in’ to protest what many have called an excessive example of racial profiling.

“I’m definitely upset, mad, a little frustrated and angry about it,” Foster told ABC7.

According to ABC7, about 30 individuals gathered on Saturday to eat lunch on the Pleasant Hill Station platform. BART Board of Directors member Janice Li and nonprofit policy advisor Kelly Groth organized Saturday’s demonstration, passing out breakfast sandwiches and pastries to riders.

“He was not arrested…he was cited for eating which is a violation of state law,” a BART statement on the incident reads. “The man was lawfully handcuffed after refusing to provide his name multiple times, once he provided his name he was cited and released.”

Groth witnessed the fatal BART police shooting of 22-year-old African-American Oscar Grant in 2009, telling SFExaminer “I continually see police overstepping their power on BART. Now it’s time to put an end to it.”

A new California police transparency law allowed for the release of a report on the 2009 shooting. Anthony Pirone, the BART officer who fatally shot Grant, used racist profanities and violence during the arrest. The report, released this year, concluded that was Pirone responsible for instigating and escalating the situation which led to Grant’s death.

This is not the first incident that calls into question BART security policies and protocol. The transportation provider has been under repeated criticism for racial profiling. Two-thirds of the individuals banned from the BART in 2018 were black, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

“To me, I have no doubt this guy was treated differently because he is a young black man,” Oakland resident John Riemann told ABC7.

Kaley LaQuea is an award–winning print and digital journalist who’s been creating content since 2008. She’s passionate about economic, environmental and social justice. She has an unhealthy relationship with caffeine and two cats: Totoro and Mononoke.